The complexity and range of environmental rules makes it all too easy to fall foul of one and end up entangled in red tape delays or enforcement battles with the council. Consent processing hold-ups, abatement notices, infringement notices, enforcement orders and prosecutions typically follow if you overlook a relevant rule. They bring with them cost, including significant delays, rectification works, fines or expert help to resolve issues. This is true irrespective of whether you are a farmer, miner, developer, builder or factory owner.
While we pride ourselves in having the knowledge and expertise to help you resolve these battles as quickly and painlessly as possible under the circumstances, it is obviously far less costly still to avoid non-compliances in the first place, but that is easier said than done. Because of this we have put together some key tips that should provide a helpful starting point, even if they provide no guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong. They may not cover your exact situation, but we hope they are helpful and provide a starting point for more specific issues which we would be delighted to discuss with you.
Minimising the risk of a Resource Management prosecution
Prosecution is at the more extreme end of things that can go wrong in terms of environmental rules. There are a number of simple precautions:
- Making sure you get your consent granted, fully commenced and with conditions with which you can actually comply before you start your activity;
- Having the right equipment to achieve what the relevant consent or condition expects;
- Ensuring proper compliance training and monitoring of those physically carrying out your activity;
- Having the right systems and procedures to make sure activities cannot occur unless proper steps have been taken to ensure they comply with environmental rules and consent conditions.
How Farmers Should Respond to Compliance Issues
The environment is the farmer's office and its natural and physical resources, his/her tools. That has made environmental compliance issues, correspondence and serious legal notices a fairly normal and often unavoidable part of today's agribusiness landscape. Here are some of the more likely scenarios likely to occur in the agricultural sector (but not just that sector) and how best to respond:
- Council monitoring reports;
- Abatement Notices;
- Infringement Notices;
- Monitoring officers' questions about compliance and requests for interviews.
Minimising Rebuild Resource Management Red Tape
Few events will equal the Christchurch earthquakes and the resulting rebuild in terms of intensification of the modification of natural and physical resources. Although Central Government and CERA truncated much of the rule-making and resource consent application processes, they have by no means removed the web of complex rules that have to be complied with to demolish and rebuild damaged buildings. Overlooking any one of these rules can bring projects to a grinding halt through consent delays or stop work notices, while clear rule breaches raise the prospect of prosecutions, convictions and fines. Here are some issues we have encountered and some pointers as to how to deal with them:
- Using existing rights to avoid potentially problematic resource consent requirements;
- Avoiding problems with potentially contaminated sites;
- Dealing with excess water on building/demolition sites lawfully;
- Addressing heritage protection issues for damaged buildings.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.